New Japan Pro-Wrestling is making moves to integrate women’s wrestling (joshi, as it’s called in Japan and by devotees around the world) into its product. Potentially one of the biggest moves is the introduction of the IWGP Women’s championship, a title which will be featured and defended on New Japan shows going forward.
Assuming the belt will travel to NJPW shows around the world — and one of the first announced parts of the integration plan was to include wrestler’s from the all women’s promotion Stardom (owned by the same company that owns New Japan, Bushiroad) on their U.S. brand Strong — having a well known name holding it would probably be a good idea.
Someone like KAIRI, fka as WWE’s Kairi Sane.
NJPW announced today (Sept. 23) that the winner of the first-ever Mae Young Classic will be in the tournament to crown the first-ever IWGP Women’s champ. KAIRI will receive a first round bye, and face the winner of Alpha Female (aka Jazzy Gabert) vs. Ava White on Oct. 23’s Stardom show in Japan. The victor moves on to the finals at New Japan & Stardom’s first co-promoted show, Historic X-Over on Nov. 20. The winner of the tournament will be crowned the first IWGP Women’s Champion, and defend her title at Wrestle Kingdom 17 on Jan. 4, 2023 at the Tokyo Dome.
White & Alpha Female’s match happens on Oct. 2 in London at NJPW’s Royal Quest II. Stardom explained why KAIRI is grouped with the non-Japanese talent:
KAIRI-> International Superstar-> International Bracket#Stardom— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 23, 2022
None of the four wrestlers on the Stardom side of the bracket have been named yet. They’ll wrestle first round matches on an Oct. 22 Stardom show, with a semi-final bout on the next night.
Is KAIRI an early favorite in your book? Or do you need more information before crowning the former NXT Women’s and WWE Women’s Tag champ?